The Argument. This word
is used in the eighteenth century sense of a summary of the
subject matter of a book. See Introduction, xx, and note to
Argument, 221-25 below, for a discussion of the provenance of
tribe of the Algonquin family. The name means
"southern." The Shawnees were present in the
Cumberland River Valley in Tennessee in the seventeenth century,
and gradually moved north and west under pressure of white
settlements. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they
were located in Ohio. Today the remaining Shawnees reside in
Oklahoma. They were at the centre of the resistance to white
supposed ability to "see" a future event or to
"see" a distant place as if it were present.
the Prophet Tecumseh’s
younger brother (1775?-1836), leader of the movement to reject
all white contact. His Indian name was Tenskwatawa. The name
"the Prophet" was given to him by the Americans he
opposed. It signifies one who speaks for any deity, one who
foresees, or an inspired interpreter of the will of a deity. The
extent of his influence on the historical Tecumseh has not been
established (see also, note 32, xxxvii).
word used by whites to designate the male head of an Indian
tribe. The Scottish use of the word chief and chieftain to
designate the head of a clan is echoed throughout Tecumthe
by the use of these two words to describe Tecumseh, and thus to
link him to the heroes of Scott’s romances.
this case, not a full-scale war, but something more like modern
guerrilla warfare. Following the American Revolution, Americans
were determined to push their boundaries westward into Indian
territory, a movement which had been prohibited under British
rule. Between 1790 and 1795 the Indians lost three battles
against the American army and were forced to give up most of the
Ohio Valley. About 1805 the Shawnees settled near what is now
Greenville, Ohio, because the Prophet said that he had been
ordered by the Great Spirit to do so. For the same reason, they
moved to Tippecanoe in 1808. About 1807 Tecumseh began to rally
all the Indians in the area against the Americans, who responded
by trying to divide the tribes and conquer each separately. The
Americans suspected the British of encouraging Indian
resistance. While Tecumseh was absent, William Henry Harrison,
governor of Ohio, attacked Tippecanoe, destroyed the village,
and scattered the Shawnees. See also I, 221-55.
back settlers People
who settled new areas further from the Atlantic Coast, thus, in
back of the settled states.
Indian mode of
warfare A method which was based on ambush and
surprise. See Heriot’s description of Indian warfare when the
natives succeed "by endeavouring through stratagem to take
advantage of the enemy, by falling upon them suddenly, when
divided into hunting parties, when occupied in cultivating the
fields, or when wrapped in profound sleep. The success in these
predatory excursions depends on the secrecy of their march, and
on using every means without being themselves exposed to view,
to discover the detached parties of the tribe which they propose
to attack" (Travels, p. 448).
river which flows south through Indiana and Illinois into the
confederacy of four tribes that, in the seventeenth century,
lived near Lake Simcoe in present-day Ontario. They were great
traders and agriculturists. As a nation, they were effectively
destroyed by the Iroquois. Some of those who survived settled at
the village of Lorette, near Quebec City, where Longmore would
have observed them. Heriot describes the village of Lorette and
its inhabitants (see Travels, pp. 80f.).
war in Canada The
War of 1812. The Americans declared war on Britain on June 18,
1812. General William Hull, who was also governor of Michigan,
invaded Canada on July 12.
basic unit of tribal organization. The Shawnees, for example,
were divided into five groups with up to twelve clans in each.
The clans were named for various animals. Inheritance was
through the father’s line. The four Huron tribes were divided
into clans in which inheritance came through the mother’s
invasion . . .
Erie Hull attacked Sandwich, part of present-day
Windsor, Ontario. The settlement was located on the Detroit
River, which flows into Lake Erie.
surprise . . .
corps The American forces under Brig.-General
James Winchester, attempting to retake Detroit with a force of
nine hundred men, successfully attacked the garrison of a small
outpost at Frenchtown on January 18, 1813. However, the British
commander, Major-General Henry Procter counterattacked on
January 22. Winchester’s troops were not quite surprised and
had time to defend themselves, but suffered about four hundred
deaths. The remainder of the force were taken prisoner.
Henry Procter (1763-1822), the British commander at the losing
battles of Fort Meigs, Fort Stephenson, and Moraviantown. He was
the object of John Richardson’s scorn both in the poem Tecumseh,
or the Warrior of the West, and in his prose account of the
war, War of 1812. First Series. Containing a Full and
Detailed Narrative of the Operations of the Right Division of
the Canadian Army. Procter was court-martialed at Montreal
in December 1814. He was absolved of any reproach in his
personal conduct, but found negligent and deficient in his
handling of the retreat, reprimanded, and sentenced to a
suspension from rank and pay for six months. In Zaslow, The
Defended Border, an article by Katherine B. Coutts, "Thamesville
and the Battle of the Thames," pp. 114-20, takes a position
even stronger than Richardson’s. Victor Lauriston’s,
"The Case for General Procter," pp. 121-29, presents
arguments in Procter’s defense, blaming Procter’s superiors.
In The Incredible War of 1812, p. 241, Hitsman, a
military historian, sums up Procter as the only British officer
who "managed to blunder consistently." See also, DCB
VI, 616-18. The DCB gives Proctor as an alternative
spelling of the family name, and it is spelled both ways in the
Argument (50, 142).
Fort Meigs An
American fortification near present-day Perrysburg, Ohio.
invest, in a military sense, means to besiege.
relieve, in a military sense, means to break a siege.
term for a quick dash by a besieged garrison, trying to break
secure the lives of
prisoners To protect them, to prevent the Indians
from killing them.
town in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, opposite Pelee Island.
The quotation is from
Tecumseh’s speech to Procter as recorded in Robert
Breckinridge McAfee’s History of the Late War in the
Western Country (Lexington, KY: Worsley and Smith, 1816),
pp. 372-73. See also John Richardson, War of 1812,
ed. Alexander Clark Casselman (Toronto: Historical Publishing
Co., 1902), pp. 205-06 for a variant of McAfee’s version of
ground hogs This
animal, indigenous to southern Ontario, makes its home by
burrowing into the ground.
bush fighting Attacking
an enemy in small groups from behind trees etc., rather than in
flotilla A small fleet
Matthew Elliott (1739?-1814)
had been influential in bringing Indian support to the British
side in the war. There are many differing views of his
activities throughout his long life in North America. See DCB
V, 301-03 for a carefully balanced biography.
superintendent The government official designated
to deal with all matters having to do with Indians.
liquor Distilled alcohol—whiskey, rum, etc.
author of all their
woes Cause of all their troubles.
dress . . .
feet The frock was a tunic, made of animal hides;
the "leggins" which were leggings wrapped around the
leg from ankle to knee, would also have been made of hides; the
moccassins were footwear made of hides. Cf. Heriot, Travels,
p. 291: "The habiliments of the Iroquois consist of several
pieces, being a kind of tunic, an apron, a robe calculated to
cover the whole, and shoes for the feet. The apron is made of
skin well dressed, or of European cloth; it passes under the
body and is fixed on either side by a girdle which surrounds the
waist. It is usually of sufficient length to fold over at each
end, and to hang downwards. The stockings, or leggings, are of
skins sewed on the outside, having beyond the seam a double
selvege of three inches in breadth, which guards the limbs from
being injured by brushing against the underwood [sic] and
boughs, in passing through the forests. . . . These leggings
have no feet, but enter into the shoes made of soft leather,
generally of deer-skin, and frequently neatly embroidered with
the quills of porcupines, stained of different hues."
Heriot, describing Indian dress for Europeans, uses English
rather than native terminology.
naval efforts of the
Americans on Lake Erie On September 10, 1813, the
Americans, under Capt. Oliver H. Perry, defeated the British
fleet, under Commander Robert Barclay, at the Battle of Lake
Erie (sometimes referred to as the Battle of Put-in-Bay). As a
result, the Americans controlled communications by water on the
Western Great Lakes.
spelling of Procter. See note 50, above.
engagement A battle fought with great
of pathos: producing the emotion of pity, sympathy, or sadness.
See the note to 88-89, above.
belt on which beads were strung in a pattern which recorded
historical events. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 353:
"They use on the most serious and important occasions,
belts of wampum, or little sticks, to remind them of subjects
which they are to discuss, and there by form a local memory so
unerring, that they will speak for hours together. . . . "
The version of Tecumseh’s
speech quoted in McAfee’s History of the Late War in the
Western Country concludes: "Our lives are in the hands
of the Great Spirit. We are determined to defend our lands, and
if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones upon them"
an impassioned formal speech. The Oxford English Dictionary
shows the word spelled with two "r"s in the middle of
the eighteenth century. The modern spelling, with one
"r" appears at line 207 below. Cf. Heriot, Travels,
pp. 352-53: "their harangues frequently abound with
luminous points. Nor is the eloquence of some of their orators
destitute of that force, that consciousness, that nature, and
that pathos, which the Greeks formerly admired in the
Barbarians; and although it appears not to be sustained by
action, which is sometimes a violation of the propriety of
language, although they use few gestures, and seldom raise or
vary the modulation of their voice, they appear to be penetrated
with the force of every thing they utter, and rarely fail to
long shallow river, never very wide, that meanders through
south-western Ontario, eventually emptying into Lake St. Clair.
Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 180: "The river la Tranche,
or Thames, disembogues its waters on the south-east side; its
banks are varied by natural meadows and tracts of
near present-day Thamesville, Ontario. Named for a colony
established by the Moravian missionary David Zeisberger in 1792.
open files With
space between each soldier, in contrast to close files, in which
the men were positioned almost in a solid line. Open files
allowed each man more maneuverability.
The version of Tecumseh’s
speech given in McAfee’s History of the Late War in the
Western Country ends with the words quoted at 172-74, above.
of the British army, enlisted for extended periods, who might be
sent to fight anywhere in the world; in contrast to the militia
which was made up of citizens recruited locally for short terms
of military training and defense.
Note to the
Argument This paragraph has been the cause of much
confusion for literary historians. The material, with some
excisions, was indeed printed on pp. 338-59 of the work cited, a
book which was published anonymously in England in 1823. The
Argument does not appear to have been published in any Canadian
periodical, except the Canadian Review where it preceded
the poem, as it does here. This final paragraph was, however,
missing from the Review. Longmore’s comment could be
interpreted to mean that he himself, behind a cloak of
anonymity, was the author of the Lucubrations, or else
that it was the work of a friend who had allowed him to reprint
it. A ravelin is a military fortification . Use of the word as a
pseudonym would suggest that either Longmore or a brother
officer in the Royal Staff Corps was the author. Since Longmore
never acknowledged the work in later years, as he did with The
Charivari and Tales of Chivalry and Romance, it seems
more likely that he was not the author, although "Humphrey
Ravelin" was almost certainly someone he knew personally.
For a more extended discussion of the pros and cons of
authorship, see "George Longmore: A New Literary
Ancestor," Dalhousie Review, 59.2 (1979), pp.
281-82, and Carl F. Klinck, "Some Anonymous Literature of
the War of 1812," Ontario History, 49.2 (1957) p.
refers both to his own childhood memories and to Mnemosyne
(Memory), the mother of the Muses in Greek mythology.
parent Earth The
land of his birth.
poetical form of the word climate, here used to refer to a
region or realm.
colossal. The Titans, in mythology, were a family of giants who
were the children of heaven and earth. In the battle for control
of heaven they were ultimately overthrown by Zeus.
word for melody—hence the poet’s "song."
heavenly Nine The
Muses, inspirers of learning and the arts. In Greek mythology,
they were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Clio is the
muse of history; Thalia of comedy; Melpomene of tragedy; Euterpe
of music; Terpsichore of dancing; Urania of astronomy; Erato of
erotic poetry; Polyhymnia of the sublime hymn; and Calliope of
fairy visions Magical,
insubstantial, fleeting memories of the past.
falls of Montmorency, north of Quebec City, where the river of
the same name enters the St. Lawrence. Wolfe built a redoubt
there in 1759 which was used again in 1775 and in 1812-14.
Longmore probably visited the site as a boy. Cf. Heriot, Travels,
pp. 76-77: "The waters . . . [are] powerfully impelled in
their course, insinuate themselves between the strata, dissolve
the gypsum, and tear the horizontal rock, which gives way, in
fragments of various sizes, yielding to the rushing violence of
the sweeping torrent. Somewhat below, the banks on each side,
are cloathed [sic] with trees, which, together with the effect
produced by the foaming currents, and the scattered masses of
stone, compose a scene, wild and picturesque. From hence, taking
a south direction, the stream is augmented in velocity, and
forms a cascade interrupted by huge rocks; and at a distance
further down, of five hundred yards, a similar effect is
produced. After thus exhibiting a grateful variety through its
course, the river is precipitated in an almost perpendicular
direction, over a rock of the height of two hundred and
forty-six feet, falling, where it touches the rock, in white
clouds of rolling foam, and underneath, where it is propelled
with uninterrupted gravitation, in numerous flakes, like wool or
cotton, which are gradually protracted in their descent, until
they are received into the boiling, profound abyss below.
Viewed from the summit of the
cliff, from whence they are thrown, the waters, with every
concomitant circumstance, produce an effect awfully grand, and
wonderfully sublime. The prodigious depth of their descent, the
brightness and volubility of their course, the swiftness of
their movement through the air, and the loud and hollow noise
emitted from the basin, swelling with incessant agitation from
the height of the dashing waters, forcibly combine to attract
the attention, and to impress with sentiments of grandeur and
elevation, the mind of the spectator. The clouds of vapour
arising, and assuming the prismatic colours, contribute to
enliven the scene. They fly off from the fall in the form of a
revolving sphere, emitting with velocity, pointed flakes of
spray, which spread in receding, until intercepted by
neighbouring banks, or dissolved in the atmosphere."
surging movement of the water when it has passed over rocks and
falls. See the quotation above.
Diamond Cape Cape
Diamond, the high cliff which was the distinguishing mark of the
town of Quebec when seen from the St. Lawrence.
Plain On the height of Cape Diamond; the scene of
Wolfe’s defeat of Montcalm.
James Wolfe (1727-1759), who was killed in the victorious battle
of the Plains of Abraham, defeating the French under Montcalm.
See DCB, III, 666-73.
temple, or a flag or banner. Either meaning is appropriate here.
archaic form of the word poetry.
Greek mythology, the personification of the west wind.
the emotion of awe in the viewer.
or enclosing in an idyllic shady nook.
where the loud . . .
celestial glow See note to 49, above.
eddy, a whirlpool, or any profound depth.
Greek mythology, the goddess who acts as messenger for the gods,
and who produces the rainbow as the sign of her movement through
the skies. Hence, Iris is used as a name for the rainbow.
minstrel entertained with music and story-telling, consequently
the word refers to the poet’s works and their relationship to
readers. The idea of minstrels would have had an additional
meaning for Longmore, since Sir Walter Scott makes extensive use
of minstrels as narrators in his long poems. Here, Longmore, as
the poet, transforms himself into the minstrel who will recount
a Canadian metrical romance in the manner of Scott.
stringed musical instrument used to accompany songs, and as a
symbol for lyric poetry. In Scott’s poetry, minstrels and
bards are always portrayed with a lyre.
Memory To be
remembered by others.
Savage grandeur Wild,
sublime scenery (see Introduction, p. xxx, and the note to
essence of the Divine.
allusion to the Roman empire and its pomp.
means of conversion to Christianity.
tributary tide The
Wabash River is a tributary of the Mississippi. See Scott’s Rokeby
(II, iii), "But many a tributary stream," and Heriot’s
description of the St. Lawrence River, with its "tributary
streams" (Travels, p. iii).
varied scenes Picturesque
scenery; see Introduction, p. xxx.
This description of natural
youth growing up in "the wilds" is in direct contrast
to the poet’s description of his own childhood in Quebec City;
the development of a "natural man" is thus set against
the development of a "civilized man." Cf. Heriot, Travels,
pp. 271-72: "In many situations on the continent of
America, the human race is found to approach nearer to a state
of nature, than in any part of the ancient world. The condition
of some of its inhabitants seems but little removed from that of
the animals which range the gloomy and boundless woods. Man may
here be contemplated, either emerging from a rude state of
liberty, or united into small communities, or in a state of
comparative civilization." Heriot also observes that, among
natives "talent consists in swiftness of foot, in being
skilled in the chace [sic], in conducting a canoe with
dexterity, in the science of warfare, in ranging the forests, in
living on little, in constructing cabins, in cutting down trees,
and in being able to travel hundreds of leagues in the woods,
without any other guard or provision than the bow and
personification, representing an inexorable force, or events
destined to happen.
at full speed.
native ease and ruder
grace Behaviour that is natural and suitable to
the surroundings. The juxtaposition of "rude," which
can mean clumsy, with "grace," which means the
opposite, implies that the natural manner differs from the
educated, sophisticated one. The word rude, in its sense of
uneducated or unpolished, was often used to describe aboriginal
peoples. A description which obviously influenced Longmore can
be found in Heriot, Travels, pp. 318-19, "The
freedom of manners, and the uncertainty of life, from the
various hazards to which it is inevitably exposed, imparts to
the character of savages a species of liberality, under which
are couched many benevolent principles; a respect for the aged,
and in several instances a deference to their equals. The
natural coldness of their temperament, admits of few outward
demonstrations of civility. They are, however, affable in their
mode, and are ever disposed to shew towards strangers, and
particularly towards the unfortunate, the strongest marks of
hospitality. A savage will seldom hesitate to share with a
fellow-creature oppressed by hunger, his last morsel of
Numerous are the defects which
contribute to counterbalance these laudable propensities in the
disposition of savages. Caprice, volatility, indolence beyond
expression, ingratitude, suspicion, treachery, revenge, cruelty
to their enemies, brutality in their enjoyments, are the evil
qualities by which they are weighed down."
disease A disease which results from living in
luxury, a way of life which results in loss of energy. Cf.
Heriot, Travels, p. 319: "They [the Indians] are,
however, strangers to that restless versatility of fashion,
which, while it contributes to enliven, torments at the same
time a state of polished society. They are ignorant of those
refinements in vice, which luxury, and superfluity, and satiety
dome A roof,
sometimes taken to mean the entire dwelling. A reference to the
birch bark shelters constructed by tribes in that region. Cf.
Heriot, Travels, p. 283: "Wandering nations, such as
the Algonquins, who remain but for a short time in one
situation, are satisfied with making their huts extremely low,
and with placing them in a confused manner. They generally carry
with them large rolls of the bark of the birch-tree, and form
the frames of the cabins of wattles and twigs stuck into the
earth in a circular figure, and united near their upper
extremities. Upon the outside of this frame the bark is
unrolled, and thus affords shelter from rain and from the
influence of the sun."
idols of his
shrine Idols are statues or other tangible things
that are objects of worship. Most eighteenth-century writers
about North American Indians, whether missionaries or
independent travellers, attempted, with varying degrees of
success, to describe Indian religious practices. It is now
understood that most tribes believed that there was one major
beneficent spirit, with a parallel evil one. Below these two
were many subordinate deities inherent in animals and natural
objects (such as the sun and moon here). Whites generally
translated the various Indian names for the good deity as
"the great spirit." The Shawnee word seems to have
By their strict . . .
presiding star A reference to the Indians’
method of counting the passage of time and of guiding themselves
by stars when travelling at night. Cf. Heriot, Travels,
pp. 482-83: "The natives of America reckon the lapse of
time by nights rather than by days, and divide it into lunar
months. This mode is, however, corrected by the course of the
sun, whence their years are regulated, and distributed into the
four seasons, and into twelve months. The solar years are
destined to mark the age of man, which is denoted by the
attainment of a certain number of natal days. The same turn of
expression is in use respecting the sun, who is said so many
times to have regained the point from whence he commences his
course. The number of years to be specified is frequently marked
by the name of one of the seasons, and a person is said, in
reference to his age, to have survived so many winters."
greyish-brown colour; dusky.
The Prophet Tenskwatawa,
Tecumseh’s younger brother, a shaman who, in response to white
incursions into Indian territory, preached a return to Indian
ways and a rejection of white men’s goods and ideas. The
movement which he headed, from about 1805, became very powerful
among the tribes west of the Appalachians. When it failed to
stop white settlement the Prophet and his followers moved
further and further west, while the remaining natives turned to
startled or surprised.
wind at night.
Apollo The Greek god Apollo in his legendary and
oracular connection with Delphi (Pythia). Longmore seems to have
been thinking of what is now called the Apollo Belvedere,
a statue of Apollo that was looted from the Vatican by Napoleon
and exhibited in Paris between 1802 and 1813. It was held to
represent the prime example of male physical perfection in
untutored soul Not
converted to Christianity.
Which leads . . . lonely
glen The reference is to the ignis fatuus,
or will-o’-the wisp, a phosphorescent light seen hovering or
flitting over marshy ground, superstitiously considered to lead
travellers astray, so that they become lost and die.
nomadic Athapascan tribe, primarily hunters, who lived in the
north and west of what is now Canada during the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. Carver refers to them as one of the tribes
he visited. Cf. Carver, Travels, pp. 60-63.
Greek mythology, the personification of the north wind.
Power . . . Beauty’s These
are allegorical forms. The image is one of a painting with
Beauty resplendent in sky blue and Power, in the gold of a
sunset-reflecting cloud, leaning against her.
It was once believed that fourteen days of calm weather
preceding the winter solstice occurred when the halcyon, or
kingfisher, was nesting. Hence the association of the bird’s
name with calm weather.
golden car The
sun. In Greek mythology Apollo, the sun god, travelled across
the sky in a golden chariot.
of autumn as a beautiful woman.
cornucopia; a cone-shaped holder of produce; a symbol of
personification of the idea of diligent work.
described as pearls.
of the names of Apollo, the god of poetry and music as well as
of the sun.
An implied comparison between
high civilization and the natural world. The spiral column
refers to grandiose monuments to heroism.
personification of foolishness, silliness, or weakness of mind.
As a separate structure, a folly is a costly and useless
building begun without a reckoning of its cost. Longmore may be
suggesting that the city as a whole is foolish and wasteful.
aromatic and fragrant.
monarch of the
day The sun.
evening star. Pale starlight is perceived by the poet as silver.
In mythology Hesperus was the son of Astraeus and Eos, the
goddess of the dawn. Together they were the parents of all the
stars and all the winds. There is an echo here of The Lay of
the Last Minstrel, I, xi: "The silver light, so pale
Greek mythology, a nymph who, for differing reasons in different
accounts, became a mere voice capable only of repeating the last
thing that was said to her.
missionaries and travel writers describe Indians dying their
bodies in black and red (and occasionally white) for ceremonial
occasions and for making war. Cf. Heriot, Travels,
p. 427: "The warriors who attend this assembly [a council
of war] are painted in the most frightful and fantastical
manner, and dressed in their arms." Longmore seems to
ascribe the purpose entirely to the Indian’s perception of
eagle feather was one of the symbols of a chief’s power, the
eagle being considered as the strongest and fiercest of birds.
Scott describes highland chiefs as wearing an eagle feather. Cf.
The Lady of the Lake, III, xxxi.
This "War Song" as
it was called in the Literary Garland (July, 1840),
p.365, follows Scott’s example in the occasional use of short
lines with irregular metre (see, for example, "The Dance of
Death"). Ceremonial dances were described by many
travellers. Cf. Heriot, Travels, p. 475: "The dance,
among the natives of America, is not considered as a simple
relaxation from the more essential duties of life, or as an
amusing exercise. With them it is regarded as a ceremony of
religion, and practiced upon occasions the most serious and
solemn. Without the intervention of the dance, no public or
private transaction of moment can take effect. It seems to
operate as a charm, in rousing the natives from their habitual
indolence and torpidity, and in inspiring them with activity and
animation." Heriot gives a detailed description of Huron
dances on pp. 82-83. A further description, pp. 477-79, reads in
part, "One holds a kind of drum, another a chichicoué, or
the skeleton of a tortoise filled with pebbles. Whilst they sang
and made a noise with these instruments, they are joined by the
spectators, who strike with sticks against pots and kettles, or
dried pieces of bark which they hold before them. The dancers
turn in a circuitous figure without joining hands, each making
different gestures with his arms and legs, and, although,
perhaps, none of the movements are similar, but whimsical, and
according to caprice, yet the cadence is never violated. They
follow the voices of singers by the continued enunciation of he
he, which is concluded by a general cry of approbation still
There does not seem to be any
contemporary source for this description of the Prophet
consulting the gods by means of fire and interpreting their
wishes by the colour and movement of the flames, but the concept
was not uncommon in popular superstitions having to do with
Ohio River is a tributary of the Mississippi.
A white attempt to render
Tecumseh’s manner of speech. Note the use of natural images
such as the oak, the appeal to ancestors, and the emphasis on
bravery. In Tecumseh’s speech there is no use of
"poetic" language or Western European mythology as
there is in the remainder of the text. Tecumseh was actually
away at the time of the massacre and is placed at the scene only
by poetic license.
or deceived, caught in a trap by deception.
string with a running loop intended for catching small birds and
animals by the foot or neck.
common word in Scott’s descriptions of battles, as in the
description of the Battle of Flodden in Marmion, VI,
deadly ball Eighteenth
century gun shot killing opponents.
untaught ear Something
they had not heard before and therefore did not recognize.
of the allegorical names, derived from Columbus, for the United
States. This sequence, to l. 288, represents the English view of
American attitudes and actions with regard to aboriginal
false Prophet In
a Biblical sense, someone who claims to speak for God, but who
actually leads believers astray.
Beguil’d . . .
hour Asleep and dreaming, therefore open to a
of death in battle.
travel writers described an instinct for revenge as being part
of the Indian character. See note to I, 85, above.
evening star, see note to II, 65, above.
effect, the mainstream of life.
of the impure and unhealthy. In Longmore’s time, the word was
also used as a genteel term for masturbation.
Where yet . . . graven
there. Brock and his second-in-command, Lt. Col.
John Macdonell, were both killed during the battle for Queenston
Heights. They were initially buried in a bastion of Fort George,
near what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 1824 they were
reinterred under the first Brock monument, which was being built
as Longmore wrote Tecumthe.
Queenstown rock The
escarpment heights above what is now Queenston, Ontario. It was
the site of the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812.
Today, Brock’s monument, situated on the top of the
escarpment, dominates the surrounding area and can be seen for
miles. Heriot, in describing the various communities between
Montreal and Niagara in his Travels, p. 170, also spells
the name as Queenstown.
Sir Isaac Brock (1769-1812), the Administrator and Commander of
the forces in Upper Canada at the beginning of the War of 1812.
He was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights, successfully
defending the Niagara frontier against American invaders.
fair memory Refers
back to the Introductory Stanzas and to Memory as mother of the
muses and thus the source of culture.
a cave or cavern.
dread cataract Niagara
Falls, one of the most sublime sights in the Canadas (see the
notes to III, 41 and 85, below).
so loud it resembled the breath of Titans. See note to the
Introductory Stanzas, 21.
Heriot, Travels, pp. 160-71, for an extended description
of Niagara Falls and surrounding area, from which the following
is taken: "The lofty banks and immense woods which environ
this stupendous scene, the irresistable force, the rapidity of
motion displayed by the rolling clouds of foam, the uncommon
brilliancy and variety of colours and shades, the ceaseless
intumessence, and swift agitation of the dashing waves below,
the solemn and tremendous noise, with the volumes of vapour
darting upwards into the air, which the simultaneous report and
smoke of a thousand cannon could hardly equal, irresistibly tend
to impress the imagination with such a train of sublime
sensations, as few other combinations of natural objects are
capable of producing, and which terror lest the treacherous rock
crumble beneath the feet by no means contributes to
The beginning of the War of
poetical name for England. Longmore uses the word extensively in
The War of the Isles when referring to England, her
armies, and her generals.
violent seizure of an enemy’s property.
Ontario. The Niagara River flows between Lake Erie and Lake
cataract Descriptions of Niagara Falls were
provided by almost every European visitor to Canada, as well as
by North American residents who visited the site. Certain
aspects of the falls,—the noise (invariably described as
thunderous), the rainbow, the mist, the sublime grandeur, and a
final reference to the Creator are characteristic of many such
descriptions. Variations occur only in the terms in which these
aspects are described. See C. M. Dow, Anthology and
Bibliography of Niagara Falls, 2 vols. (Albany: State of New
given as a gift.
hissing snake North
American snakes seem to have fascinated Europeans. They appear
in many travel accounts. For example, Weld, Travels, II,
163-68 describes at length the varieties and habitat of the
snakes found in southern Upper Canada. Carver’s Travels
were famous in their day for an anecdote he recounted of an
Indian who had tamed a snake (pp. 43-45). Since many people had
questioned his veracity, he took pains in the second edition to
indicate that the story had been told to him by a reliable
witness. There are also snake images in Scott; see Rokeby,
III, vi: "Thus, circled in his coil, the snake, / When
roving hunters beat the brake." Snake and brake are
Longmore’s rhymes here and at III, 526-27.
clump of low bushes or a thicket.
and taking away the property of others by force.
In a poetic sense, symbolizing a country.
sections of birds’ wings nearest the tip. Commonly, as in this
instance, taken to mean the entire wing.
sky, the upper atmosphere.
sulphury smoke From
gunpowder, which was made of sulphur, saltpetre and charcoal.
gleam See, The Lay of the Last Minstrel,
V, xxi: "For I have seen war’s lightning flashing"
cypress wreath The
dense, dark foliage of the cypress tree came to be used in
expressions of mourning. A cypress wreath would be a visible
symbol of death and mourning.
Sol The sun.
and all-knowing, here as a synecdoche for God.
legendary creature that sucks the blood from sleeping people.
gale . . . lake Storms
on Lake Erie were described by many travellers who crossed from
Fort Erie on the Niagara frontier to Amherstburg on the Detroit
frontier by boat. The lake is very shallow and strong winds
produce high waves. Weld, Travels, II, 145-47, describes
several storms which considerably slowed his journey between the
two ends of the lake, and Heriot, Travels, p. 177,
mentions the difficulty of navigating Lake Erie.
coat of arms of the United States, with the eagle at the top,
here used as a metaphor for American power.
The Battle of Lake Erie,
September 10, 1813, won by the Americans.
Force Two of the traditional weapons of evil.
Twelve moons Some
Indian tribes marked the passage of time by the number of new
moons which had come and gone, some by the passage of the
seasons. Twelve moons would be about forty-eight weeks. Indian
rhetoric was generally considered by whites to be somewhat
overblown, although powerful. While the poet continues to use
personification here, there are no classical allusions since
Tecumseh would not have known them. See note to I, 107-12,
in advance. This line was omitted in the first edition.
personification of the motives of the British commander in
making a second attempt to convince Tecumseh of the necessity of
chart A map.
contrast with the English Thames would have been intended. See
note to the Argument, 203, above.
parent solitude The
location of the source of the Thames River.
yellow snake Weld,
Travels, II, 163-64: "The other sort [of snake] is
of a greenish yellow colour, clouded with brown, and attains
nearly twice the size of the other. It is most commonly found
between three and four feet in length, and as thick as the wrist
of a large man."
name for Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto and sister of
Apollo. He became the god of the sun, she became the goddess of
the moon. In this case, the moon, personified as a goddess.
The military force under the command of a marshal. In this case,
simply all the force assembled.
reference to the dark skins of the native warriors.
"lave" are common rhymes in Scott.
note to II, 89, above.
magnet’s ore The
figure of a magnet irresistibly attracting iron filings is
applied to the inevitability of male compulsions influencing
Longmore’s description of
the battle omits the fact that the British forces broke and ran,
leaving the Indians unprotected. At his court-martial, Procter
was charged with personal cowardice, but not convicted on that
count. Much of the description—the presence of a charismatic
leader, the noise and shouting, the futility of war, the bitter
cost of victory—parallels Scott’s "The Field of
"the spirit of the
storm" The source of this quotation has not
yet been identified.
the sense of a strong force.
as an adverb, referring to a momento of the past.
The first Brock monument was
officially dedicated on October 13, 1824, and the general’s
remains were reinterred there. That monument was destroyed in
1840 by a person who had fled to the United States in the wake
of the 1837 rebellion. The monument which stands today on
Queenston Heights was opened in 1853, after a public
fund-raising effort. Plans for a monument to Wolfe at Quebec
were prepared in 1823 as Longmore mentions, but the first
monument to Wolfe was erected on the site of his death on the
Plains of Abraham in 1832. In 1849 that monument, broken and
defaced, was replaced by a doric column placed on a pedestal and
protected by an ornamental iron fence. It is interesting that
this last monument was built on the orders of Lieut.-Gen. Sir
Benjamin Durban, George Longmore’s uncle-in-law and former
commanding officer, in his role of Commander of the Forces in
Canada. There are letters from Longmore to Durban, while the
latter was in Canada, preserved with the Durban Papers in the
Library of Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, but
the Wolfe monument is not mentioned in them.